The refurbishment and extension of the listed post office building on Whitby Street in Hartlepool will provide a serviced facility offering studio spaces for start-ups and small businesses. The project complements the existing innovation district and is aimed at graduate capture, retaining knowledge in the city and helping to nurture new business enterprise.
The interior has previously been stripped of nearly all historic features and taken back to the structure of the building. The interior quality is established by the strength of the existing fabric. Interventions and architectural alterations required to appropriate the building for its new use will be clearly articulated as new insertions. The intent is to create a conversation between new and old, where the original building is the dominant feature. The existing building is extended by providing a fourth wing, enclosing the central area to create a common social space, which links new and old buildings unifying the spaces into a single facility.
The proposed massing of the new build extension complements the existing building by presenting a gable end elevation to Hope Street and Exeter Street. The gables are two storeys high with an inhabited attic. The new extension is smaller in bulk and mass to the building fronting Whitby Street and consequently deferential respecting the hierarchical arrangement of buildings where Whitby street is the main street linking into Church Street and the station. The proposed building is distinct, modern and clearly separate but complementary to the existing building.